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Metro Cafe

PaulF Jan 16, 2007 05:09 PM

Sometimes I lack the houndish vernacular to properly praise a restaurant that I really like.

So, let me just say that I don't have the words to describe how much I've enjoyed Metro Cafe on my last two visits.

The place has been written about here before. For those who don't know, it's a little restaurant in a Travelodge on Washington Place just east of Sepulveda. You can just about see it if you are standing on line at Tito's -- it's on the same side of the street, but across Sepulveda.

Metro is sort of like a nicer diner, with sandwiches and good burgers and eggs for breakfast. By nicer, I mean, it's not a greasy spoon. Maybe the ingredients are a little fresher than the place where you have breakfast. And if that's all they had, they'd do fine, because they've got the hotel crowd supplementing the neighborhood crowd.

But there's more to Metro.

It's also a Serbian restaurant.

Serbian?

Yeah, I didn't know from Serbian food, either.

When you go for dinner, they hand you a different menu. You can still get the items on the lunch menu (maybe breakfast, too, I'm not sure) but they hand you a dinner menu.

And there's some very good items there.

My favorite appetizer are the zucchini pancakes. I could eat all three that come on the place. Very crispy on the outside, very soft on the inside. I like to use the "Ivar" (Not sure about the spelling) which is a semi-spicy red pepper dip or relish that comes with the hot bread. I use the ivar on the pancakes ... just delicious.

For dinner, my favorite is the ... is the ... to tell you the truth, I can't spell it. It's the Chimchimvadri or something like that. I don't have a menu in front of me to check. But you'll know it when you see it.

These are spiced ground beef ... well ... sausages. They are about the size of breakfast sausages and maybe you get a dozen or so. The owner told us the first time we tried them that traditionally, they are made with three types of meat: beef, lamb and pork. But in deference to Jewish people and Moslems and others who prefer not to eat pork or some other meats, they make them with all beef.

Just outstanding. I've mentioned before that I like sausages a lot, one of the few things I like to cook for company. Or grill, I guess. And I could eat a hundred of these. I lack the words to describe the flavor, just a perfect blend of spices. They are served sort of medium rare, too - medium rare to medium ... a few will be pink inside (slightly). Very juicy and tender.

The sausages lay on a bed of chopped raw onion, that sort of warm umder the meat and become saturated with the juice -- not exactlyu cooking the onions, but warming them and seasoning them. The dish also comes with potatoes, but I must admit I'm sort of careful about carbs and since I eat the bread, they always replace my potatoes with grilled vegetables, peppers and mushrooms or whatever they have around.

That dish alone brings me back to the Metro. But they also have a great chicken dish with a spinach sauce and I tried my sons salmon pasta and can advocate for that dish as well.

Not to mention the pork chop smothered in sauerkraut that had my mouth watering at the next table. Or the steak I saw across the room

Metro has beer and wine, but no liquor. They also have good coffee.

One other thing: The people that work there are very nice and very good at service. It's a small restaurant and you get the feeling that everyone is sort of related, I've never asked, maybe they are. It's very familial inside, there's a warmth that adds to the vibe.

The owner, don't know his name, has stopped by to say "hi" when the place isn't that busy. He really cares, he even said that if someone doesn't like something, he won't charge them or he'll serve them something else. "I stand by my food," is what he said.

Is Metro great? I dunno. What's great? If only the fanciest, high end spots are truly great, then no. It's not fancy.

But if very fresh, very flavorful takes on many familiar dishes is great and if serving an unfamiliar (at least to many) cuisine very well is great, then the place comes close to great.

I think it's a neighborhood spot, not a destination spot. I don't think I'd go if it was in Monrovia unless I was in Monrovia. But if you're in the neighborhood it's worth a tty.

The whole neighborhood has some good places. Too many Mexican places to name, plus El Rincoln Criollo for Cuban and S&W for hash and the nicer places popping up to the east in Culver City, plus Giovanni's for Italian ... and the Metro has a nice niche in the whole mix.

  1. b
    bulavinaka Apr 22, 2011 10:44 PM

    We went tonight and they were packed - glad to see this. We had the zucchini pancakes, seared ahi on english pea hummus, ribeye steak (med-rare as ordered), salmon spaghettini, chevapchichi, short rib rigatoni, an inexpensive but nice Cal-Bourdeaux-style blend and crepes for dessert.

    The food was solid as always, the service warm, friendly, fun and attentive, and Sasa was on his game as usual. It was kinda loud in there (some gals seemed to be reliving their Bon Jovi concert days) but hey, it's Friday night...

    2 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka
      westsidegal Apr 23, 2011 08:01 AM

      their wonderful crepes, imho, deserve more praise than they normally get.
      they are terrrific. thank you for mentioning them.

      1. re: westsidegal
        b
        bulavinaka Apr 23, 2011 08:27 AM

        We're a big fan of the crepes as well - we almost always finish off our meal there with an order.

    2. PaulF Jan 11, 2011 07:38 AM

      This thread is so old I don't even like Metro Cafe anymore.

      The food is good, I just hate going there now. Service is slow. Everyone takes forever. The place is small. I don't like the chairs.

      My wife goes there when she is eating out without me. I wish I could delete my review.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PaulF
        b
        bulavinaka Jan 11, 2011 07:51 PM

        Hah - just desserts for starting the thread in the first place! :) Speaking of desserts, have you had their crepes? Dee-lish.

      2. b
        baloney Dec 29, 2010 04:53 PM

        Does anyone know if they serve all the Serbian goodies at lunch also or is it strictly a dinner affair? I've been curious to go but tough to get to that area for dinner. And has anyone tried their banana pancakes(been dying to try them, I loves me some pancakes)?

        8 Replies
        1. re: baloney
          j
          Jase Dec 30, 2010 07:07 AM

          I believe it's mainly a dinner feature. They do serve the chevapchichi as a sandwich during lunch. But as mentioned I've found them pretty friendly and accommodating. If you were there for lunch, it wouldn't hurt to ask if they could make you something off the dinner menu. You might have more success after the lunch rush though. Check out their site, it's got a good bit of info on it.

          http://metrocafela.com/

          1. re: Jase
            b
            baloney Dec 30, 2010 09:26 AM

            Thanks, that's what I figured from their website. I'll try to go one of these days in between lunch and dinner and see if those dishes are available.

          2. re: baloney
            b
            bulavinaka Jan 9, 2011 11:21 AM

            Hi baloney, thanks for asking about the banana pancakes. Your enquiry piqued my interest, so I urged my son to order it (I got the Montenegro breakfast). The sauteed banana pancakes were delicious. The best way to describe them is the bananas are sliced in half then lengthwise, sauteed (probably along with some butter and sugar in a pan), then are separated into three sections, where each section of sauteed bananas will then have a dollop of pancake batter poured on top of it, then finished. These are neatly stacked on a plate and lightly finished with powdered sugar and a scoop of whipped butter. Maple syrup on the side, and you're good to go.

            1. re: bulavinaka
              Peripatetic Jan 9, 2011 12:36 PM

              bulavinaka, you've piqued MY interest . . . what's a Montenegro breakfast like?

              1. re: Peripatetic
                b
                bulavinaka Jan 9, 2011 04:55 PM

                They fry up some bacon and red peppers (I think they're bells). Three eggs sunnyside up are laid over easy on the bacon and peppers. Sprinkle some feta and capers on top, serve it up on a plate with perfectly browned breakfast potatoes, toast and a little wedge of watermelon. Capers are underutilized IMHO - any chef who thinks of using capers on a breakfast plate has my attention...

                1. re: bulavinaka
                  Peripatetic Jan 9, 2011 05:20 PM

                  Sounds tasty -- thanks! I'm curious if they use feta or kajmak (which is a feta-like cheese from the Balkans). I'll definitely have to go sometime for breakfast.

                  1. re: Peripatetic
                    b
                    bulavinaka Jan 9, 2011 05:28 PM

                    The menu states feta and it tasted like feta to me - not too salty though. I've heard the feta from them parts can be very salty - or was it Bulgarian feta?

              2. re: bulavinaka
                b
                baloney Jan 9, 2011 02:25 PM

                Curious minds think alike! I had to try the banana pancakes myself yesterday and enjoyed them a lot. From some reports I read elsewhere, they made it seem like you didn't need any syrup(supposedly the banana saute juice should have been sufficient) but I did need the syrup though there was nothing wrong with the bananas, just not as syrupy as I thought it would be. Pancake against pancake, not as good as Bake N Broil's, Griddle and a few other places. Very sweet, authentic service and I would love to come back and try the dinner offerings.

            2. b
              bulavinaka Dec 28, 2010 08:43 PM

              After a relatively long time away from this place (summer was our last visit), we truly enjoyed another perfect meal at Metro Cafe. This place epitomizes what Chow is all about. An eatery in a somewhat obscure location that serves incredibly good food at a very reasonable price. I can't think of any cafes that serve what Metro does at the level and price that they do, but if you add on their expanded wine and beer list, there is no equal. Any cafe that offers exceptional wine picks and Old Rasputin Imperial Stout has my attention. A skirt steak that was grilled as ordered and tender for a cut that can be pretty leathery if not treated right; chevapchichi which is always tasty and perfect. And their salads and apps choices are brief but all well executed. Throw in an order of crepes for dessert, and I'm done for the night. Sasha is the perfect host - I lay my trust in him whenever I'm not sure what to order or what wine or beer to pair. This place deserves a lot more attention that it currently gets.

              9 Replies
              1. re: bulavinaka
                J.L. Dec 28, 2010 09:19 PM

                It's spelled Sasa (but pronounced Sasha). He is ever a gracious host. I'm overdue for a visit to Metro Cafe myself.

                1. re: J.L.
                  Peripatetic Dec 28, 2010 11:59 PM

                  Originally it was probably Saša (š = "sh" sound).

                2. re: bulavinaka
                  j
                  Jase Dec 29, 2010 08:18 AM

                  Love, love their mushroom salad here and I'm a die hard carnivore. We can never resist getting the chevapchichi, it makes good noshing leftovers. Agree about the food quality to price ratio, really good deal. The service is also always very warm and inviting. Definitely one of those hidden gems.

                  1. re: Jase
                    b
                    bulavinaka Dec 29, 2010 09:44 AM

                    Darn! I'm a meatatarian as well, and I really like mushrooms but have never tried this for some unknown reason or another. Will put this on my list for sure - thanks, Jase...

                    1. re: bulavinaka
                      Servorg Dec 29, 2010 12:34 PM

                      My wife has had the mushroom ragout over pasta a couple of times and really liked it. I enjoyed (as did my wife) their Serbian salad (which we split).

                      http://www.metrocafela.com/

                      -----
                      Metro Cafe
                      11188 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90232

                      1. re: Servorg
                        mollyomormon Dec 29, 2010 01:00 PM

                        Ahh, I really love Metro Cafe. I have very fond feelings for it both because of the food and because it was day 9 of manbitesworld, which happened to be the day I was introduced to Noah's project:

                        http://manbitesworld.com/articles/18/...

                        1. re: mollyomormon
                          hhewitt Jan 3, 2011 03:58 PM

                          I'm a big fan too... it's the one restaurant all visiting family members always enjoy (even the vegan one). I miss the slightly lower prices of years past, but it is delicious food, with a gracious host.

                      2. re: bulavinaka
                        j
                        Jase Dec 29, 2010 02:40 PM

                        Great! I'm glad I can pay back a little towards all the great tips I've gotten from you.

                        1. re: Jase
                          b
                          bulavinaka Dec 29, 2010 02:57 PM

                          Au contraire, mon fraire!

                  2. J.L. May 19, 2008 12:52 AM

                    A somewhat older post, but the same feelings apply. Mrs. J.L. and I frequent Metro quite a bit. Sasa (the owner) is always polite, and the food always rocks.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: J.L.
                      l
                      lad1818 May 19, 2008 11:47 AM

                      You can also get ajvar at Jons Markets.

                      Metro is really good. I can't really add much to the already eloquent write-ups. I've never been unhappy with anything I've ordered there. In fact, after reading this I want to head over right now.

                    2. b
                      bulavinaka May 18, 2008 11:11 PM

                      We ate here for the first time tonight and I can easily say that this will fit nicely into our choices for solid casual lunch and dinner picks. The food was great, the service was very helpful and prompt, and the food was great... oh, yeah... It's a small place but the tables are spaced well enough to not feel crowded, and there is seating outside as well.

                      The menu is twofold. They have one menu with relatively basic breakfast and lunch choices, but there's this other menu on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper - it's almost like the triple-secret contraband menu that they slip you as you're about to pick up their standard one - that "other" menu kinda blew me away. It contains an eclectic list of solid somewhat traditional European menu items that one typically doesn't find at most restos, let alone a cafe. Burrata and roasted pepper salad, lamb osso bucco with pappardelle, goulash, and schnitzel all in one cafe menu? And Chevapchichi - my first dip into Serbian cuisine. As I really enjoyed this dish, I jokingly mumbled, "I knew I should have married a Serbian woman..." My wife gave me a huge stink-eye... Geez, it's just a joke, dear... I didn't realize she left her sense of humor at home...

                      What really works for us as a family is the two-menu dynamic. Their basic menu has more than enough choices to keep our kids happy. And we can work on the "contraband" menu that is much more suited for more "adult-like" tastes. At the same time, we get to nudge our kids into some of these dishes without bludgeoning their kiddy-palates, all in a very casual cafe setting. And when my son decides to stop burping openly at the table and spreading butter on his bread with his fingers, we can go to a really nice place that may offer the same dishes...

                      One would think that all of these Euro-dishes were roaming the streets of LA looking for a suitable caretaker, where Metro Cafe took them in, promised to love and respect them and gave them a new home... and they all lived happily ever after...

                      1. j
                        Jerome Jan 16, 2007 10:05 PM

                        The sarma at Metro Cafe totally rock.

                        period

                        and the soups are great as well.

                        Aroma Cafe is quite good (the one on overland). Now who remembers the name of the croatian place in San Pedro that has the chicken, etc.?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Jerome
                          j
                          JBC Jan 16, 2007 10:34 PM

                          Ante's. But that's all the cuisine of the old Yogoslavia L.A. has, There is no Slovenian or Macedonian I can think of.

                          BTW, have you tried an order ($2.25) of the pretty amazing grilled corn yet at?
                          http://www.freshcorngrill.com

                          1. re: JBC
                            j
                            Jerome Jan 17, 2007 01:14 AM

                            not yet. it's january. Is it amazing period or amazing for january?

                        2. r
                          rho38 Jan 16, 2007 09:30 PM

                          Metro is a great place for dinner. I can vouch for the Chavichichi or whatever it's called. It's delicious. I also had the Osso Bucco, the roasted chicken and the mushroom appetizer, which were all excellent. The salmon with pesto was a little oily, but great flavors.

                          It's closed on Monday nights and open at 6PM for dinner on other nights.

                          1. w
                            WBGuy Jan 16, 2007 05:26 PM

                            Since you're a fan of Metro Cafe, I would recommend that you also give their Bosnian counterparts at Aroma Cafe (on Overland) a try. I contracted an addiction to the red pepper "ajvar" when I first went there (Trader Joes sells the stuff for $1.69 a jar btw). Aroma serves their cevapi with chopped sweet onions with a side helping of kajmak, an addictive sour-cream/butter-like spread which tastes divine, melted over the hot sausages in a bun. Their burek, a kind of savory, spiral flaky pastry, is also fabulous.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: WBGuy
                              PaulF Jan 16, 2007 05:31 PM

                              Thanks, that sounds like a great recommendation.

                              Do you also like Metro?

                              1. re: PaulF
                                j
                                JBC Jan 16, 2007 05:46 PM

                                For a good Metro Cafe pictoral report (10 pics) check this blog:
                                http://triplecreme.blogspot.com/2006/08/metro-cafe-in-culver-city.html

                                She also did a nice one on Aroma Cafe (6 pics):
                                http://triplecreme.blogspot.com/2006/...

                                1. re: JBC
                                  PaulF Jan 16, 2007 05:58 PM

                                  The stew looks great and the steak does, too.

                                  It's actually great cold weather food, IMO.

                                  I realized when I wrote the OP that I wasn't breaking new ground, lots of people here dig the Metro ... I just think this place is worth reminding people about. Great pics.

                                2. re: PaulF
                                  w
                                  WBGuy Jan 16, 2007 06:19 PM

                                  Metro has a lot more dishes than Aroma, and is a great place to have dinner. Aroma's cevapi sandwich has me going back there for lunch, plus it's a lot closer to where I live. :)

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